This week, local blog Humans of Asheville will be rolling out a series of portraits and stories profiling Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC staffers, mentors, mentees and board members.
We’re so glad to have the opportunity to share our stories of why we are committed to transforming children’s lives through mentoring and how mentoring truly can change our communities and the world.
If it weren’t for Nathan I don’t know where I’d be. I wouldn’t be here, that’s for sure. Not here in the sense of the word, present, but not here in this organization. I wouldn’t be here mentally. I wouldn’t be involved in Non-Profits. I wouldn’t be involved with half of the other stuff I do. I serve on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as the United Way in Burke County. I’m also certified by the United Methodist Church to preach in any church internationally. I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if it weren’t for Nathan.
I know it works. I’ve seen it work. It works not only for the kids but for the volunteers. We hear from them. They get as much out of it as the kids. This is a way for children and adults to come to commonality. We work with poverty level kids. We work with middle and upper class volunteers. It’s the chance for both of them to see the other side and figure out how to work with the other side. We work with a lot of interracial matches. It’s one kid at a time. You start with your children and then branch out. You help others with their kids. It makes a difference for people and that’s why I’ve done it for so long.”
I think not everybody is cut out for mentoring but I do wish more adults, even if they have school aged kids, find some way to get involved in the life of other kids in some supportive way. There are so many ways in our community to help. I think a lot of people don’t realize what families are going through. What’s more common in our program is that kids only see what’s in their small circle, they don’t have a lot of resources to do a lot of things. Their world view tends to be really small, their neighborhood, their school. There was one Little Sister that wanted to work at Sonic when she grew up because that’s what people in her family do. But then her Big Sister says, let’s see what other things that you might want as options. She ended up going to AB Tech and completed the Nursing Program. She’s a nurse now. Those are the kinds of things that we see on a regular basis, kids having their horizons expanded.
When a family would like to use our services they are usually put on a waiting list. Our waiting list for girls is usually a couple of months. For boys it’s anywhere between 8 months to a year. Men don’t volunteer nearly as often as women do. Pretty much for every 10 women I get one guy. So boys linger and linger and wait. Sometimes they never get a Big Brother. We’ve tried everything over the years to get more men to sign up. We continue to try. It’s heartbreaking when a mom calls in and wants hep and I have to tell them we are at a 10 month wait. That’s just to get them an application not even a Big Brother. I have a drawer full of applications for boys that are still waiting for more male volunteers. I have between 60-80 boys currently waiting. There are a lot of people who don’t know that we are even here much less that we need more volunteers.
Everybody always asks me if I like having a Big Sister. I do. It’s fun. I like to play UNO and we play tag. We like to go eat ice cream. I like rainbow ice cream because it has every color in it.
I love to see that competitive side of her come out. Just to think about what she’s going to be like when she gets older and I have the opportunity to be with her on that journey. I would love to be with here for a very long time. That feels important to me.
I was 9 when I met Laura. She was more than just my Big Sister. She was the big sister I always dreamed of. She was another mother. I can’t express it enough. Without this woman I don’t know where I would be. When I came into the program with my mom battling drug addiction, my dad incarcerated. Laura was my angel that came to me.
We’ve done all kinds of things and we would have special events that would happen when she would reach a goal or something but it was the day to day just spending time/ordinary moments that come to mind when I think of special times spent together.
The way things are going in our society now I feel like making matches like that—people from different cultures that have some key commonalities—is very important for these children going forward.